Suffolk County Council delays care homes sale decision

Suffolk County Council's Endeavour House
Image caption Suffolk County Council said it was facing a 28% reduction in government funding

Suffolk's 16 county council care homes for older people will remain in the public sector for at least a year.

The Conservative-run local authority wants to save £125m over the next four years and is looking at options to sell its homes.

The council said its consultation showed 53% of more than 1,000 respondents favoured selling the homes to independent care home providers.

However, 31% said they did not agree with any of the proposed options.

Councillor Colin Noble, who has responsibility for adult services, said: "The key thing is that we're spending £3-4m more by providing our own homes rather than [paying for places] in the private sector."

The 16 care homes provide 526 places while the county council buys 2,300 places in private sector homes.

Three options

The three-month consultation put forward three options for Suffolk County Council:

  • Close its homes and buy alternative care places in the private sector
  • Sell the homes as 'going concerns' to the private sector so that residents would not have to move
  • Shut some homes and sell the remaining homes to the private sector

A further 10% of responders supported the final option, while 6% thought the 16 homes should be closed.

Councillor Inga Lockington, Liberal Democrat spokesperson, said: "All we know is that they're saying they haven't made their mind up precisely yet.

"They started off saying they didn't want to run any of the homes at all - they preferred to close six and sell-off 10.

"[The consultation] was clearly not an open thing to go into when they had already decided that they are not going to run homes in the future."

Mr Noble said: "In May, we will announce which of the options we intend to move forward on and in probably about a year's time you should start to see things happening on the ground."

The results of the public consultation will go before Suffolk County Council's cabinet for the first time at a meeting on Tuesday, 29 March, 2011.

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